noahshipman’s review published on Letterboxd:
I watched this awhile ago, but at the time I just didn't now how to articulate my thoughts. After talking to more people and studying film more, I feel like I am finally able to explain why this beloved film just did not connect with me at all.
Whenever I talk to superfans who defend this movie, so often does it turn into a conversation about how "ambitious" The Fountain is and what the movie aspired to do rather than whether or not it actually succeeded at such things. Just because you draw connections to various religions, just because you deal with philosphical subject matter, just because you make every frame golden because you're a r t s y, does not mean that your narrative is automatically profound, original, or deep.
I find The Fountain to be incredibly pretentious and up its own ass, as well as manipulative and over-the-top. When absolutely every single moment, frame, or event is intended to be an emotional highpoint, nothing feels earned. Weisz spends a lot of time just standing there and glowing. Jackman just looks anguished and heartbroken. The two main actors seem to have the same expressions on their faces the entire movie, making the narrative feel stiff and impossible to connect with.
I say "narrative," but there isn't really a story. Nor characters. This is a film that is solely about its message, like an essay — which would not necessarily be a fault if The Fountain's message weren't so banal and pseudo-intellectual. There is hardly anything to dissect or analyze beyond a surface level here since Aronofsky does leaves not leave any room for interpretation.
And finally, perhaps my most unpopular opinion: even as a visually pretty and aesthetic film, The Fountain does not succeed. The constant monochrome, golden color palette and hugle overdone chiaroscuro only contributes to the film's stiffness and lack of emotion. Overall, the film seemingly tried so hard to be artsy and beautiful that it actually just ends up feeling detached, preventing anything from resonating emotionally.